To recall is to live

On February 5th, 1992, Caldera sided with Chávez and Fidel Castro sided with Carlos Andrés Pérez.

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I’ve always been struck by what a grubby, squalid little Myth of Origin the putsch of February 4th makes. Next the glories of the Sierra Maestra, next to the romance of Granma, next to the whole majestic sweep of the Bay of Pigs and the thrill of hemispheric revolution (hell, next to this guy), the Bolivarian Revolution’s roots in a 5-hour Keystone-Kops-style insurrection foiled by a basic organizational blunder makes for a sad, threadbare little tale.

Chavista propaganda has done what it can to to try to place this sordid affair in some sort of a meaningful narrative arc, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Because, let’s not forget: as Mirtha Rivero details in her gripping retelling of the story, 4F failed because, even though they’d had over a decade to plan it and even though on the night of their assault on Miraflores the rebels outnumbered the loyal forces by perhaps 20-to-1, Hugo Chávez failed to make sure every exit was covered, which allowed president Pérez to quite simply hop in a car and drive out of there as bullets rained into the palace. El resto es paja.

Forget about the coup itself – Chávez’s mismanagement of the coup should’ve been enough to disqualify him from further political ambition. The guy had one job

Ugh. I’m going back to bed.

(That bolero is after the jump, btw…)

30 thoughts on “To recall is to live

  1. I think this shows that even with all of his bullshit revolutionary rhetoric, hes much of a lying snake as any other politician.

  2. All too, too true. Salient details: CAP dressed as a cook, going to Cisnero’s Venevision to save the day–the same Cisneros who,later, brokered by Carter, sold out Venevision to Chavez in order to stay open (just another “fellow traveler” hobnobbing with the true democrats in NYC/Washington). Min. Defense Chief Ochoa Antich, having met CAP at the airport to cover his ass, then delivered CAP to MIraflores, a la boca del lobo, and disappeared incomunicado for several hours, as CAP’s embattled/under-fire Military Attache futilely tried to call him from the floor of Miraflores. Chavez’s mostly-conscript troops, the majority of the casualities, had no idea they were trying to overthrow the Government. Today’s almost-Banana Republic F4 Celebration of traitors rewarding other traitors/crooks (JVR heading up the civilian lot), would be laughable, if it weren’t so pathetic, and is simply another example that Venezuelan truth is stranger than fiction could ever be. Every democratic Venezuelan government had to constantly buy off the Military, who are, for now , helping to suck out what’s left of the economic lifeblood of the Country, and really should eventually be eliminated altogether (utopian, I know).

    • “Chavez’s mostly-conscript troops, the majority of the casualities, had no idea they were trying to overthrow the Government.”

      Come now, it must have become obvious somewhere between the first and the second bullet fired at the Government headquarters.

      • Please, you over-estimate the conscripts’ intelligence; they were told they were saving the Government from an insurrection. But, of course, your “intelligence” must be superior to mine.

      • When bullets start flying soldiers training takes over, the legality of the action must have been the last thing in their minds.

        • I’m not debating their decisions, I’m just saying that it’s hard to believe they didn’t soon realize what was going on, regardless of what the most logical soldierly response then was.

          I didn’t mean to offend anyone, that just seemed like a curious thing to claim to me.

          • “Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do, and to die. Into the Caracas streets of death marched the 400….”

      • Almost every single German soldier who made up the rank of file in Berlin of the 44 coup against Hitler believed they were STOPPING a putsch by the SS. The soldiers in the Berlin reserve army were selected for their loyalty and many of them were well off sons of elites avoiding deployment to the eastern front.

        If your commanding officer tells you it’s time to honor your oath to defend your leader, and says important government buildings have been taken over by Putschists, you’ll tend to believe them. Certainly you won’t have time to sit around and debate it.

  3. I never understood the UP’s genocide in Colombia, including that of three presidential candidates. Now, it seems all so logical for me…

    • People with a historical history of armed struggle against the government like UP, or Hugo Chavez, should never be allowed into the highest positions of power if there are any acceptable alternatives. They are consistently a disaster. Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, the Nazis, Iranian Islamic fundamentalists, once in a position of power they are incapable of seeing political opponents as anything but military enemies. Real revolutionaries are willing to step aside and allow civilians to take control, as is happening in Libya.

      • What you mean “historical history”?
        Your comment is mostly spot on, but I disagree with your list of actors. In the sense that the UP was the product of the VII Farc’s Conference, after almost 50 years of armed conflict. To put Chavez at that level, is to give legitimacy to the myth of 4F, for real Colombian revolutionaries he might be a “cagueta”.
        Now to put the Nazis and the Iranian Revolution next to each other is a sort of exabrupto. Last, but not least, real revolutionaries in Libya?

  4. Francisco,

    Nice article, bad reference to a bolero song. This brings me back to the 2002-2003 paro. Orlando Urdaneta played this song all the time in his night show (titulares de manana?).

    Bad, bad memories. I guess this confirms the title of the song

  5. Speaking of “you only had one job”…

    What is it with the Venezuelan proclivity to install manhole covers upside down? I mean, there are only two ways to do it… the right way (flat side up) and the wrong way (reinforcing ribs up, like a flat pyramid). How could you possibly get it wrong? But they do. Almost every time.

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